Saturday 31 March 2012

Keven Emmert on Sabbath

Kevin Emmert, ‘The “Above All” Commandment of the Sabbath: The one divine “law” that tells us to stop striving for transformation’, Christianity Today (16 March 2012).

Emmert observes that ‘it is difficult, and ironic, to imagine rest as the most transformative element in the Christian life’.

He draws attention to Exodus 31:12-13: ‘And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you’”.’

The Sabbath here is an ‘above all’ command, which ‘encourages us to trust in God in a way that no other activity can. So much more could be accomplished by adding another day of labor, but the Sabbath requires us to trust that God will provide for all our needs and that he will continue to manage the world without our help. The Sabbath is a practical reminder that we are completely dependent on God.’

And with keeping the sabbath comes the promise ‘that I, the Lord, sanctify you’.

‘Here rest is closely connected to sanctification. We instinctively believe our efforts and activities effectively promote personal and spiritual growth – that God is the primary agent in justification and that the individual is the primary agent in sanctification. We may need to think again.’

This leads into some brief reflections, via John Calvin and Tim Keller, on how ‘sanctification is living in accordance with our justification, which is a free gift’, and a reminder that ‘only God brings about our transformation’, which ‘is something we can count on, and rest in’.

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